Kickboxer: Vengeance

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Kickboxer: Vengeance Movie Poster Image
Awful, awkward martial arts remake is very violent.
  • NR
  • 2016
  • 90 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The movie's message is all about revenge. The hero is allowed to kill in order to get his vengeance, and it's unsettling to see the crowd cheering (and the good guys smiling and clapping) at the bad guy's brutal, bloody death.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Aside from the discipline and skill required to become a martial arts master, the movie has no behavior or role models to aspire to; the entire focus is violence, revenge, and killing.

Violence

Frequent martial arts fighting. Bloody wounds. Fighting with glass shards embedded in hand-wraps. Fighting with swords. Murder/killing. Guns and shooting. Violent revenge is celebrated.

Sex

Passionate kissing and a sex scene between the male and female leads; female lead shown topless. Two women disrobe; their naked bottoms are shown (they're following a fighter, presumably to his bedroom).

Language

Infrequent uses of "s--t," "ass," and "Jesus Christ." The end credits include a rap song with mostly unintelligible lyrics that very possibly include "f--k" and the "N" word.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A secondary character appears to have a drinking problem; he's constantly swigging from cans or bottles. He's accused of being "so drunk" and is asked to stop drinking. Some smoking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Kickboxer: Vengeance is a remake of co-star Jean-Claude Van Damme's own Kickboxer (1989). Alain Moussi takes over as the lead character, while Van Damme plays an older martial arts trainer. Violence is strong, with lots of martial arts fights, some of them very bloody and resulting in deaths. One fight includes shards of glass embedded in hand-wraps, and another involves swords. Guns and shooting are also shown. There's passionate kissing and a sex scene that's fairly mild overall, but there's also partial nudity (breasts, bottoms). A secondary character appears to have a drinking problem -- he's constantly shown drinking, and characters comment on his drunkenness. Language is infrequent but includes "s--t" and "ass." Revenge is the sole message and motivation here, so there's not much in the way of messages or role models.

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What's the story?

A remake of the original 1989 Kickboxer, KICKBOXER: VENGEANCE centers on Kurt Sloane (Alain Moussi), who's managing his martial arts-champ brother, Eric (Darren Shahlavi). When an offer comes in for Eric to fight an underground match against the scary, mountain-sized Tong Po (Dave Bautista, Drax from Guardians of the Galaxy), Kurt balks -- but Eric goes ahead and is killed in the ring. After a failed attempt to get revenge, Kurt finds himself in the presence of his brother's trainer, Master Durand (Jean-Claude Van Damme, who played Kurt in the original). Now Kurt must overcome his own ego and fear before he can face the fearsome Tong Po -- and survive.

Is it any good?

The original Kickboxer might have been cheesy, but it also had Van Damme's star power; the chronically uninteresting hero of this awful remake can't even get close to him. As Sloane, Moussi seems slow and clumsy, though this is perhaps not helped by John Stockwell's clunky direction. No matter how many training montages Kickboxer: Vengeance has -- and there are quite a few -- Sloane never seems to get any better.

When Sloane finally fights Tong Po, no amount of scriptwriting or choreography can make it look like Sloane is winning -- and when he finally turns the tables, it seems like cheating (Tong Po could have, and should have, won). Moreover, Sloane's shallow romance with a cop (Sara Malakul Lane) feels completely tacked-on. And real-life mixed-martial artist Gina Carano has a role but doesn't actually get to fight! Van Damme even looks a bit sheepish in his role, wearing sunglasses and a Panama hat in nearly every shot.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the violence in Kickboxer: Vengeance. Do you admire any of the martial arts skills on display? What's the impact of media violence on kids?

  • Is there any motivation in the movie besides revenge? Do any of the characters learn anything? Are there consequences?

  • What do you think is the appeal of martial arts movies in general? Van Damme movies in particular? How does this one compare to the original Kickboxer?

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